“Meetings & Fashion in Leon” Premiers at AIBTM 2013

This month we attended the Americas Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (AIBTM) in Chicago. During our trip we participated in a press conference with representatives from  Leon, Mexico to learn more about the new “Meetings & Fashion” event program.

The 437-year-old, 1.4 million population city in the heart of Mexico is known throughout the world for its fine leather goods and shoes and is responsible for 70 percent of the footwear produced in Mexico. The tagline for the new campaign: “This is Leon, wear it!”

“History, tradition, and avant garde — that’s what our city is,” says Oscar Garcia, Leon CVB’s general manager. Incorporating exclusive showrooms, design center tours and other fine aspects of the city’s fashion infrastructure into its group-business offerings, “Meetings & Fashion” in Leon is intended to “generate a clear differentiator for Leon. What does Leon offer? Fashion is what we offer. We are trying to restore our destination’s vocation and identity.”

There are 500 footwear/leather boutiques within the city. The CVB assists planners in setting up an exclusive showroom for attendees with appearances by celebrity shoe designers.

“We’re number one in the world of shoe fashion, and Mexico is the number four destination for meetings tourism,” says Garcia Ramos. “Now we are putting the two concepts together and giving visitors the chance to buy handcrafted leather goods.”

Book a pre/post visit to designer showrooms and shop in the city’s speciality shoe and leather shopping boutiques with a personal shopper. Planners can arrange a large order of custom made shoes upon arrival and have them delivered to the group at the end of the event.

“What we do here in Leon is high fashion,” says Garcia Ramos. “When Pope Benedict visited, he decided to change his Italian shoes for a pair made here in Leon. We also produce shoes for Gucci and source the leather here.”

Designer Armando Martin Dueñas, chairman of Ackerman, the company in León that designed Pope Benedict’s new wine-red loafers says that the company makes over 83,000 pairs per year with a staff of 54 craftsman. Dueñas says that handcrafting shoes is a tradition in Leon that dates back 400 years.

The city includes popular attractions, including archeological sites, cathedrals, museums, city parks, theaters and hundreds of gourmet restaurants.The 57-acre Poliforum Convention & Exhibition center  boasts 484,375 sf of exhibition space and 55,972 sf of flexible event halls for conferences, accommodating 10 to 14,000 pax.